What the fuck? I mean…really – WTF?! (I know! The grand-daughter taught me that; she will be so proud). This film came up on a random scroll through he recesses of Netflix. Timid Tina yelped as the cover went past – a muscly chap with extended arm things on a table at a black tie function. The blurb promised borderline vicious satire on our art, culture and digital lives. Hmmm, we thought. Give it a go, we thought, and on went The Square.
So, it centres on a museum curator chap, the stressed-in-his-handsomeness Claes Bang as Christian. He is a parent with shared custody and annoying kids, hip deep in career achievements, weird middle-aged angst and pretentiousness. You see where the satire is coming from quite early on – he is duped out of his wallet and phone by a band of borderline street performance thieves. Then he has a colleague find his phone in a block of flats housing the snobbishly denigrated. So, in scenes of cowardice and clacking comedy, he posts a threat through every door in the building. What this earns him is a child from the flats utterly pissed at being called a thief, because his parents are blaming him for the accusation, and a rolling indignity from the universe.
So, we’re two-faced and oddly proud with it. Middle years. indeed.
The Square doesn’t seem to be making a character point at all, just a societal one. Bang holds the eye with the stresses in his life (he has comedy sex with Elisabeth Moss‘s Anne at one point, the two grappling over the resulting condom with a very modern lack of trust), but he never quite seems real. He has kids that don’t seem real. His enemies don’t seem real. Even the dickheads who cost him dearly, a lunatic marketing team for the museum he runs, manage to feel like unreal caricatures of caricatures.
Needless to say, the TV room got a bit pissed off watching The Square. Languorous pauses fetishise modern art. A growling pile of chairs and a worrisome scene concerning damaged piles of stones dutifully take the piss, but they’re aiming at a really narrow audience. Timid Tina’s kid is director of mid-Cotswold arts, or somesuch, personally responsible for eight-foot straw sheep adorning all the deepest rich-bitch villages in 2009. Perhaps he would revel in the satire.
Okay, look. This film is good. It is kind of entrancing, has a couple of incidental points to make about the hubris of the middle-aged Dad more tied to his ego and his job than the love he should display. But, its set-piece is a loud, horrible, discordant and brilliant thing. For the man on the cover is pretending to be a huffing, chuffing ape (Terry Notary – astonishing), with all the simplicity, curiosity and violence that can mean for those around him. Perhaps a natural thing in the falsity of a black-tie dinner is the message of The Square, for the poshly dressed retrieve their agency from the beast by bearing their own fists at the end of a scene you can’t look away from…
Ummm. Such is humanity today?
Perhaps it’s old Jack, here. I’m not an artist and have never been one to tolerate the points being made in showy modern galleries.
The Square is weird.. Tangibly good. Really good.
But WTF?!? is all it leaves you at my time of life.